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"s for the land s." Now, there is not the least evidence, that any of them concurred in the cruel conduct of their progenitor. Yet the designation of a “ bloody house” is transferred to them, because “ be flew the Gibeonites." We must believe that God acted with perfect equity in the whole of the transaction. But there is a depth in this judgment which we cannot pretend to fathom.

God hath dealt in this very manner with his own people. He subjected the child, that David had begotten in adultery, to death; and declared, that the sword should never depart from his house, because he had murdered Uriah'.

These facts, recorded by the Spirit of God, are perfectly consonant to many doctrinal testimonies contained in Scripture on this subject. Speaking of the wicked, Job faith; “God layeth up his “ iniquity for his children :" He compares it to those treasures, which men are eager to amass for their, pofterity. Thus Jeremiah complains, as perfonating the afilicted Church of God; “Our fa“thers have finned and are not, and we have “ borne their iniquities.” Elsewhere he confiders this branch of the divine conduct as ground of adoration ; “ Thou-recompenseft the iniquity “ of the fathers into the bosom of their children " after them : the great, the mighty God, the « Lord of Hofts is his name "."

Although men were to disregard the language of Scripture, their own observation would supply them with sufficient evidence of this truth. Are not children subjected to poverty and want, in consequence of the prodigality of their parents ? Do they not derive from them peculiar diseases, which are the natural consequences of vice? Do they not often endure great and long-continued sufferings from such diseases? Do not these frequently issue in premature death? Now, unless it can be proved, that suffering, or even death, is in itself no punishment; it must be admitted, that children are punished, by such hereditary diseases, for the crimes of their parents, although they have had no hand in them.

them

q 2 Sam. xxi. 1.-9. 14.

r 2 Sam. xii. 10. 14. u Jer. xxxü. 18.

s Job xxi. In

Lam v. 7.

God visits none in this manner, who are otherwise absolutely innocent. When treated as guilty, in being subjected to suffering in consequence of the sins of their more immediate ancestors, they are primarily viewed as transgressors in their first parent. . Thus, indeed, God vindicates his justice in the imputation of Adam's first fin. While many object to this doctrine, as if it were inconGistent with the rectitude of the divine nature, that men should suffer for what was not their

personal act ; let them few how, according to this easoning, it is just with God to visit the iniquities of more immediate progenitors on their posterity: or let them both set aside the evidence of incontestable facts, and fairly deny the truth of the Sacred History in this respect, that they may appear

in their real character. Alas! that there is so much refined deism among us; that so many profefs to believe the truth of revelation, who Vol. II.

H

notwithstanding notwithstanding discover the insincerity of their profession, by trampling on the authority of the Spirit of inspiration, when his testimony opposes their own imaginations !

11. The fathers are, according to this procedure, punished in their feed. Children are viewed as existing in their parents, long before they have actual being; as Levi paid tithes in the loins of Abraham. In like manner, parents are viewed as existing in their children, even after they have themselves left the stage of life. This is evident from the very manner in which the blersing, or the curse, was often pronounced. Shem and Japhet were blessed in their posterity, Ham was cursed in his : for both the blessing and the curse had a special respect to fucceeding generations. When Jacob received the blessing, it had also a peculiar reference to his descendants ; while Efau was justly punished by God, not only in his person, but in his posterity, because of his profaneness in selling his birthright. The blessings prophetically pronounced by Jacob, on his fons, immediately respected their offspring. Yet the blessing of Joseph is expressed as if it had been merely personal : “ The blessings of thy father * have prevailed above the blessings of my proge“ nitors ;—they shall be on the head of Joseph, " and on the crown of the head of him that was

separate from his brethren.” The same obfervation holds true as to the other blessings. The patriarch views the various tribes as present in

the

the persons of their progenitors; and the sacred historian gives us the very fame representation : “ All these are the twelve tribes of Israel : and “this is it that their father spake unto them, and “ blessed them ; every one according to his bles

fing he blessed them v.” Reuben is punished in the lot of the tribe which was to fpring from him : “ Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; be“ cause thou wenteft up to thy father's bed, then “ defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.” Simeon and Levi are punished in their feed. Because“ instruments of cruelty were in their ha“ bitations,” their father said; “I will divide “ them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel w.” The stain, attending the dispersion of Levi, was indeed afterwards in great measure wiped away ; as God chose this tribe to the service of the tabernacle and temple, and “ scattered them in Ja“ cob” as instructors of the people. But as originally expressed, it was rather a curse than a bleffing; and Levi was himself punished in the denunciation, especially as he had no intimation of the blessed iffue.

This punishment is inflicted in various ways and degrees. Parents sometimes fee the vengeance executed, before their own death. Thus it was with Eli. He “honoured his sons above” God; for when they “ made themselves vile, he re“ strained them not:" whence he is himself charged with kicking at God's sacrifice and offering". It was therefore foretold concerning his two sons;

H 2 v Gen. xlix. 26. 28. w Ver. 3.-7.

Sam. ii. 29; iii. 13.

" In

“ In one day they shall die both of them :" and his life was fpared only that he might see the completion of this awful threatening, as a sign of the future infliction of the hereditary judgments denounced against his house. For the Lord had “ told him, that he would judge his house for “ever, for the iniquity which he knew," and, by giving no proper check to it, virtually approved. These judgments, although properly affecting his posterity, are all described as directed against himself; whether inflicted during his own life, or in succeeding generations : “ I will per“ form against Eli all things which I have spoken “ concerning his house: when I begin, I will “ also make an end y."

The young generation of Israel, although not like their fathers, bore their iniquity. Their sufferings, however, were especially meant for the punishment of their rebellious parents. For the children suffered, only till that generation was extinct, which had come out of Egypt. This is evident from the sentence pronounced by their God : As for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this

wilderness. And your children shall wander in “ the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms," that is, the punishment of them, “ until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness z."

Parents, although they see not the vengeance themselves, are sometimes punished in their feed, by seeing its certainty in the threatening. When Ahab had, by impiety and murder, got poffeflion

of g Sam. iii. 12, 13.

2 Numb. xiv. 32, 33.

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